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Making Bordeaux grapes excel in the Veneto

It’s not only Tuscany where Bordeaux grapes excel in Italy, but the Veneto too, as one Prosecco producer is proving with a fine Merlot-Cabernet blend.

Giusti, which has made a name for itself with the crafting of fine, dry Prosecco from DOCG Asolo, also make a range of still wines, from fresh whites to full-bodied reds.

Among these is a flagship drop called Umberto I, using Bordeaux grapes in the sunny Montello hills within the Veneto, an area with a long history of growing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, along with other Bordeaux grapes, such as Cabernet Franc and Carmenère.

Relating to Napoleon’s control of this area of Italy in the nineteenth century, French rule brought with it the nation’s flagship grapes, and hence the longstanding cultivation of Bordeaux varieties in the Veneto.

For Guisti’s top red blend, the deep clay soils of the Montello hills are ideal for ripe Merlot and smooth Cabernet, which form the basis of wines powerful enough to benefit from 30 months ageing in French oak barriques.

The result is a wine with density and elegance, with plenty of dark berry fruit, but also a fresh acidity, and an appealing cedarwood complexity; the sort of red that’s deliciously powerful in its youth, but with the structure to age and develop greater interest over time.

For a tasting note of the 2019 vintage, see below.

Umberto I 2019 Montello Rosso DOCG Superior

A deeply coloured ruby-red with enticing aromas of sweet cherry, blood orange and cedar. In the mouth, there’s stewed blackberry, cassis, raspberry and redcurrant, then sour cherry to refresh, mixed with notes of cigar box and tangerine. Dense and ripe, but dry and bright too, there’s plenty of grippy tannin and mouth-watering acidity to offset the fleshy fruit that dominates in this fine wine(Patrick Schmitt MW, July 2023)

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